Friday, January 7, 2011

Death on the Aisle {Chapter Four}

 After a short break for the holidays, Annabelle and her crew are back.  I hope you enjoy!

Chapter Four

“Can we please stop for coffee?” Kate rested her head against the passenger window of my car with her blond hair covering most of her face and tried to shield the sun with her arm.
“I told you we were getting an early start this morning,” I said. I’d swung by Kate’s apartment in upper Georgetown and coaxed her down after a mere three calls to her cell phone. “And it isn’t that early, anyway. It’s almost ten.”
“We did have a wedding yesterday, remember? Whatever happened to having a day off?”
 “Whatever happened to not going out with the bridal party after the weddings?” I headed down Wisconsin Avenue past the “Social” Safeway. Traffic was light so far but the city was still rousing itself.
Kate peeked at me from under her arm.  “Was that ever really a hard and fast rule?”
I tried to give her my best “tough boss” glare. “Well, it should be.”
Kate, per usual, had made fast friends with the groomsmen at our wedding and had been invited to go out with the whole bridal party afterward. Since it was an Indian wedding, the dancing went on until 1 a.m., so I knew that Kate had been out late.  Which made waking her up bright and early to go to the boat with me even sweeter.
My days of thinking that going out after a wedding was a fun idea were long over.  After being on my feet for twelve hours or more, all I wanted to do was go home, take a hot shower, and crawl into bed.
“I thought you were going out with Ian after the wedding,” Kate said. “Shouldn’t you be tired too?”
“We didn’t go out.” I rolled down my window to enjoy the summer air before it got stifling. Shops were starting to set out sidewalk signs and a few people sat at the umbrella-topped tables outside Marvelous Market. “He just stopped by at the end of the wedding since his Bar Mitzvah at The W Hotel ended earlier and he was right around the corner.”
“Nice to have a hot boyfriend with an equally weird work schedule.”
“He’s not my boyfriend.” I said a little too quickly.
I wasn’t sure what to call Ian. We’d met at a wedding where he’d been the bandleader of an 80s cover band called The Breakfast Club and had been dating on-and-off since then. Mostly “off” since we both worked every weekend, and I wasn’t ready for anything serious. 
But Kate was right about one thing: he was hot. In a bad boy kind of way, which was usually Kate’s type, not mine. His spiky blond hair, tattoos and Scottish accent put him far out of my comfort zone but I was a sucker for accents and he definitely gave me butterflies.  No one had done that since Detective Reese, the detective who’d handled a few cases I’d gotten mixed up in. 
I hadn’t heard from Reese in over a month.  Not since he came over to my apartment to talk to me and Ian had shown up at the same time.  I cringed thinking back on the awkward scene with the two of them that ended in Reese make a polite exit.  I hadn’t had the nerve to call him after that and didn’t know what I’d say even if I did.  Since I had firm plans not to get mixed up in any more wedding homicide, I doubted that our paths would cross again.
“Well you’d better tell him that then,” Kate said.  “And can you roll up the window?  It’s cold in here.”
“Tell him what?” I started to roll up the window then stopped.  “How can you be cold?  It’s June.”  I looked at Kate’s poppy-colored sleeveless sheath that ended at mid-thigh.  That explained it.
Kate sighed. “That he’s not your boyfriend.  Because I think Ian may think he is. Doesn’t he come over to your place a lot?”
“Not a lot,” I said. When we stopped at the light at M Street I reached in the backseat with one hand and grabbed a black cotton cardigan. “Here, put this on. We like to watch sci-fi movies every once in a while, that’s all. And he hasn’t slept over.”
Kate sat up and slipped her arms into the sweater. “Really?  Why not?”
“Not everyone sleeps over on the first date, Kate,” I said, making the left onto M Street.
She shrugged. “To each their own. I still don’t get that sci-fi thing with you, either. Now can we please get some coffee?  Baked and Wired is only one block away.  I’ll run in so you don’t have to park the car.”
“Fine. Get me anything with mocha.” I swerved over to a semi-legal street parking space and Kate hopped out. 
“Have I told you lately that you’re the best boss ever?” She blew me a kiss and ran down Thomas Jefferson Avenue. Impressive, considering she wore kitten heels and the sidewalk jutted up in places. Her navigating skill in heels had always impressed me and these were, by far, the lowest shoes I’d ever seen her wear.  Flats were simply not in her repertoire. She hurried over the canal bridge and then disappeared into the little bakery with the hot pink bike leaned out front.
Kate had a point.  Why hadn’t Ian and I taken things to the next level?  It wasn’t for lack of interest on either of our parts as we often kissed through most of the movies. But we’d never progressed off the couch. 
It wasn’t that I wasn’t into Ian but I wasn’t totally sure why he was into me. Guys in bands usually had girlfriends who were equally cool and tattooed.  I spent my life picking table linens and writing wedding timelines, had a collection of tasteful black suits, almost always wore my long hair in a ponytail and had never even considered getting a tattoo.  It felt like we didn’t match and, call it the wedding planner in me, but I was big into things matching.
Kate threw open the car door and handed a bag across to me. “I got you a Smurfette and a mocha.”
“A what?”
“A Smurfette—vanilla with blueberries and lemon frosting. Sounded amazing and I know you love lemon.  I got the birthday cake one.”
I peered into the white paper bag. “Cupcakes?  You got cupcakes for breakfast?”
“First of all, it’s not breakfast. It’s after 10 am, which means it’s practically lunch,” Kate said.  “Second, cupcakes are just like muffins with icing and everyone is fine with muffins in the morning. It’s really unfair to cupcakes, if you ask me. And these are not just any cupcakes.  These are hands-down the best in the city. Trust me. I’ve tried them all.”
I believed her. If there was one thing that Kate loved above men (and maybe shoes) it was sugar.  Cookies, cupcakes, brownies; she loved it all.  It was amazing she stayed so thin.  The only thing I could figure was that dating burned an awful lot of calories.
She pulled out her chocolate cupcake topped with swirls of vanilla frosting and began to peel off the wax paper wrapper. “I figured we needed some serious energy to deal with The Ship of The Damned.”
She made a good point. I put my coffee in the cup holder next to me and held my cupcake in one hand while I merged back into Georgetown traffic. I wanted to get down to the docks and do some damage control with the bride before it got too late.
“So what’s our strategy here?” Kate asked. “Take out the step-mom? Neutralize the dad? Throw the TV crew overboard?”
“I’m hoping we won’t have to “take out” anyone,” I said. “I just want to find the bride, calm her down and sort out this mess with the TV crew.”
“Oh, is that all? You know,” Kate said through a mouthful of cupcake. “Our job always sounds easier than it actually is.”
For once, I agreed with Kate completely.